Wandering Prevention – Part III

Marilee DornToday’s post continues a review of the Critical Wandering Presentation that Marilee Dorn gave following the WCDAN monthly meeting on March 14, 2017.  All material from this series of posts is taken from Marilee’s handout.

The third prevention component addresses Exit Control:  the appropriate reduction of unsupervised access to external areas.  Marilee provided examples of how most people with dementia will keep going in a straight line unless they are forced to turn because they’ve reached a dead end, fence, or other impediment.  We’ll talk more about this on the next post.

Here are ways to control exits:

  • Landscape the outside of each exit to block direct line of travel using fencing, enclosures, gates, planters or hedges.  This will require a deviation from a straight line to leave the property.  Use curves directing the person back inside.
  • Disguise exits by using curtains, screens, murals or other objects that divert the person’s attention away from exiting.
  • Disguise exits by painting or wallpapering the door the same color as the wall.  If an accent border is used on walls, continue it onto the door.
  • Disguise exits by placing doors along the side of the halls instead of at the end of the hall.
  • Avoid choosing doors with windows in them, or design it similar to other windows so the door is not as obvious.
  • Place dark mats in front of doors leading to the outside – person will see this as a hole, and may avoid crossing it and be redirected.
  • Install special door handles or child-resistant handle covers to prevent the individual from turning the knob.  Use a strip of cloth fastened with hook-and-loop tape across door handle so it’s not seen, or paint the handle the same color as the door.
  • Consider placing locks at the bottom of the door or in other positions out of direct sight line.  Use physical barriers (magnetically locked doors with prox. cards/coded keypads, or exit delay features) as is safe and appropriate to the environment.
  • Use electronic surveillance cameras on doors, including those with recording and time-stamp options.  Many brands will send an alert to smart phones when movement is detected.
  • Place alarms on external doors, but ensure that someone is available to respond to the alarm.
  • Consider installing extra steps to activate vehicles (fuel cut-off switch, consistently-used lockbox for keys).
  • Reduce the chances of exiting through windows by installing safety latches or locks.
  • Put a safety gate or bright netting across stairs or walkways which should not be accessed.

Marilee also reminds everyone to lock firearms and keep them separate from ammunition.

Our next post in this series will be on March 20, 2017.  It will discuss the characteristics of wanderings.  The final post will address recovery issues.

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